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Northwest Indiana Woodworkers Association was established in May 1990. Its goal is to improve woodworking skills, share ideas, and have a good time. The first meeting of the association was at the home of Jim Schuster in April 1988. Members began meeting at the Highland Public Library and May 24, 1990, a constitution and bylaws were adopted. By December 1990, the club had 53 active members. In March 1994, meetings moved to Pierce Junior High School woodshop in Merrillville. In January, the meeting place moved to Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville.

Our Christmas toy program started in 1989. Toys were made and donated to the U.S. Marine Corps for the Toys for Tots program. Now toys are made and donated to churches and organizations that provide for underprivileged families.

A popular part of our meetings is "Show and Tell," where members bring in a project, put it on display and describe the specifics of wood used, type of finish, and how or why it was made. Some of the "stories" can be very interesting, sometimes funny. How a carving started out to be an eagle but winds up the size of a small finch, or how a slight imperfection in a bowl came about when the project flew off the lathe.

When a past president, Steve Franek, invited members to his shop to help make toys the "shop visit" came to be. Members open their shops so other members can see how space is utilized and the placement of tools. Workshops are large and small, with most somewhere in between. If the host member has a special interest, like turning wood pens and pencils, he (or she) will demonstrate their interest. If they have a new or unique tool, visitors may get a chance to try it.

The club has had displays at a number of local public libraries. In 2009,the woodworkers had displays and a booth at the Lake County Fair. Members demonstrated wood turning, scroll-sawing and assembling toys. The club will have a booth again this year.

Members meet for breakfast and to socialize the first Saturday each month at The Old Country Buffet on U.S. 30 and Mississippi Street in Hobart.

In December, a Christmas party replaces the monthly meeting. The club provides the main courses and members bring a dish to share. Some members make gifts to be presented to the wives and women members.

A program committee provides an interesting program at each meeting. Men and women from various companies and in different fields of woodworking are encouraged to present a demonstration in their chosen field. We have enjoyed demonstrations of new tools, various types of finishing materials, all types of joinery and the many types of sanding and smoothing materials. Some members present programs in the "2 by 4" challenge, backyard projects and a "4 corners" program.

Special interest projects are offered by members, who open their shop to provide instruction in a chosen area of woodworking, (their special interest) for a small fee. Participants are given instructions, materials and the use of the appropriate tools to make and finish a small project such as turning pens and pencils, wood bowls, making ornaments, shaker boxes, etc. Each participant will leave the session with a finished project.

For more information about the club, visit www.niwoodworkers.org or call (219) 947-5916.

TO VISIT OR JOIN

WHAT: Northwest Indiana Woodworkers Association

WHERE: Hidden Lake Park, 63rd and Broadway, Merrillville

WHEN: 7 p.m. fourth Thursday of the month

FYI: www.niwoodworkers.org or (219) 947-5916

COST: $25/year; $35/Husband and wife and no fee for visitors

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